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How do you eat an elephant?

I've had a couple of life coaching sessions with Jackie Harder. She's helping to keep me proactive and goal oriented as I transition from Miami to New York City. Or, well, she's trying. She likes to remind me that all she can do is coach; that I have do the doing. This hardly seems fair.

And yet I have been doing. I've been sticking to a daily job application regimen. I've probably sent out 50 resumes so far, each with individual cover letters, tweaked and tailored  to various purposes. I've even gotten a few responses, a couple phone interviews, an e-mail correspondence or three.

But still, and I've gotten quite used to saying this: You can apply to a million jobs, but until you get that one firm offer, it feels as if you have accomplished absolutely nothing.

I need to set myself apart.

Jackie has been pushing me in the direction of the information interview. She's given me homework: I'm to track down five professionals at separate organizations and ask them to speak with me about life, the universe and, oh, I don't know, the state of the industry?

The point of the informational interview is not to find a job, per se. You are merely having a conversation, with some sort of professional, about their job. It's like making a friend. A friend with a business suit and a job. Maybe you can sleep on this person's couch while you look for a real interview? Or maybe this kind person will simply point you in the right direction. Either way, since you don't have a job, I think if you go out for lunch, they should pick up the tab, right? It could be a reliable manner with which to score free lunch. I'll have to look into this...

For now, Jackie is teaching me the importance of taking this one thing at a time. If I can stay focused and goal oriented I will create my own momentum, and then I'll just keep on going. As long as I don't burn myself out. One bite at a time, the same way you eat an elephant.

Posted by Brayden Simms at 02:20 AM on July 25, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (2)

Another Victim of the War Economy

My dad was laid off today.

So that makes me, dad, and thousands and thousands of others around the country out of work in this most inhospitable of job climates.

Forgive me but this is out of control. Myself I can handle. But Dad? Who's next? Bon Jovi? The pope? Is anyone safe anymore?

Unlike me, Dad wasn't given any notice. No, whereas my employer had the decency to give me two months' advance notice and a severance package, my father was just called into his boss's office, on a Friday, and told to pack his stuff. No warning. No package. No passing go. Just an awkward mumbled excuse and a "business is business."

So yes, I do consider myself very, very lucky.

I mean, me, I'm off to New York in five weeks, off to a new start, a new life in the quintessential American metropolis. I've applied for exciting positions at huge pillars of journalism and right now anything is possible. I am serious when I say that my situation, while unfortunate on the surface, has really been a boon, a great motivator to improve my life.

But what about Dad? (Or Pops, as he's known in certain circles.) What will he do? And how should that affect what I do? I know Mom is all devastated over my imminent Floridian exodus, and now this. I can't help but feel that I'm turning my back on my parents.

I've just got to go.

It's not as if I have a job lined up or anything. It's just something I have to do. I can't waste my days away, jobless, in the hot Florida sun, sweating and drinking my severance away.

Oh no. I need to go, to hit the mean streets of New York City at top speed.

There's not a minute to waste.

My end date at the Herald is August 18. By August 19 I want to be on a plane to New York.

So... Who's coming with me?

Posted by Brayden Simms at 02:26 AM on July 19, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (7)

A Friendly Push: Jackie the Life Coach

I received an e-mail from a personal life coach the other day.

Jackie Harder of Key Dynamics said she'd read my story and thought  I might be able to benefit from a little outside motivation.

Up till this point in my life, most of my life coaching has come from my parents. I've never before solicited help, nor has it ever been offered. But I find the idea intriguing; I often feel my best laid plans end up falling by the wayside, and that they're not very well laid out at all, anyway.

A general procrastinator by trade, I've got to admit that such a relationship could improve my overall productivity. Still, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't skeptical. I am, after all, a self-described realist (which means, apparently, that I'm a pessimist. Go figure.) I've been to a therapist or two -- which seems like the closest thing to a life coach in my experiences -- and I've never found it to be very helpful at all.

Jackie Harder had this to say:

"Some people see a correlation to therapy. There is one, but not what people
think. Therapy is the antibiotic; coaching is the vitamin. Therapy helps you
attain insight; coaching says, 'Great insight! Now what are you going to do
about it?' "


I'm not entirely certain I see the difference. I suppose a truly good therapist should really be helping you to make changes to your life based on insights you have in session. I just don't think most therapists work like that. In my experience, they have been mostly full of air.

So I've got to give it a try. If my new friend Jackie can help me in some way that too many therapists have been unable to, then it will be worth it.

Posted by Brayden Simms at 03:53 PM on July 13, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (2)

A Note To Future Employers About Tact During The Lay-Off Process

A Note To Future Employers About Tact During The Lay-Off Process:

I totally understand that you're trying to run a business here, but just try, for morale's sake, not to change the password to my computer until after I've actually left. It's embarrassing when you've got to track down the IT guy to fix it. "Oh, you're still here," he'll probably say. "Yes," you'll reply. "I've got another few weeks. Or something."

Oh and also, try not to delete the personalized voice mail on my desk phone, again, until after I've actually left. It was annoying to set the thing up in the first place; there's no way I'm going to do it again. If I receive a call from some potential employer in Bangalore, owing to the time difference, I probably won't be at my desk and therefore the call will be lost to history.

And another thing: You should avoid moving my computer module and desk and all of my stuff into a completely new environment just one month shy of my departure. After all, I'm already probably in shock over the lay off. It'd just be adding insult to injury to pull up my work station and reconfigure my entire work life in my final month of employment. You've got to imagine, I'm probably already running at epic levels of stress.

Whatever you do, don't -- just please don't -- tell us we've got to move because some guy I don't know with lots of cash to burn just needs -- needs! -- to spend it -- now! -- on a brand-new TV studio in my workspace. Even if that's the case, just please -- please! -- don't specify that the guy just can't wait another month because all this cash is just burning up his pocket and will soon engulf his entire outfit.

That would border on insensitive...

Posted by Brayden Simms at 12:08 PM on July 11, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (6)

Introducing: The Visual Resume

Multimedia Business Reporter Niala Boodhoo has turned me on to a new trend: the visual resume.

Not to be confused with the video resume, a visual resume is just a resume ... on Web.

Call it resume 2.0, call it what you want. The visual resume takes the resume concept to its logical Internet extreme.

The site visualcv.com defines this new spin on the resume: 

The VisualCV makes a traditional resume come alive with video, pictures and a portfolio of your best work samples and other supporting documents. Informational pop-ups provide background data on the companies you’ve worked at and the colleges you’ve attended. You can securely share different versions with your own network of employers, colleagues and friends, and control who sees what.

As the Internet expands the way in which we transmit and receive resumes, so does it have the potential to shape the growth of the format. Why settle for the hundreds-of-years-old, standard, black-and-white-makes-gray bore-athon, when you can be using hyperlinks and easily displaying your multimedia portfolio in a familiar Web format?

I'm sure she'll yell at me for doing this, but why don't you check out Ms. Boodhoo's visual resume for an example: Niala Boodhoo

As you can see, she's got her audio and visual clips running down the right side of the page for easy access. Meanwhile, the resume text is peppered with links for every application, to employers' and schools' websites.

After seeing Ms. Boodhoo's visual resume, I'm suddenly flush with feelings of resume inadequacy.

I don't know about you, but I want to hire her.

I've yet to create my own, but I'm going to ... just as soon as I get around to it.

I'd like to see more examples, so if you make one, post the link in my comments. Hey, maybe someone will see it and offer you a job.

Posted by Brayden Simms at 12:44 PM on July 10, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Reaching a national audience

I was interviewed -- albeit very briefly -- for NPR's The Takeaway this morning at 6:30 a.m. Since this is obviously an ungodly hour for a newsman such as myself, I decided to stick it through and stay up all night. And all for 10 seconds of air time. Still, it's nice to get the word out, not only about the unfortunate trend of editorial outsourcing, but it can't hurt to reach a couple more listeners on my job hunt.

Here is the link to the audio:

http://www.thetakeaway.org/archives/2008/07/09/7

Posted by Brayden Simms at 01:33 PM on July 9, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (4)

US papers, Indian copy editors

Robbie Corey-Boulet of the Hindustan Times wrote a sobering piece on editorial outsourcing.

He leads with my story. Check it out: US papers, Indian copy editors

Posted by Brayden Simms at 01:42 PM on July 7, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (5)

I'm looking for a job, not a city.

A note on the video resume:

I think Niala did a really great job with this thing, just like last time. At the same time, I also can't help but feel like it's just incomplete. I know you're always your harshest critic (if you're lucky, I guess), but I wish I had more time to work on it.

Oh well. Time is money, and that is something I don't have a lot of right now. I'm proud of Niala and I for even putting this thing together at all the way things were going when I showed up that afternoon to shoot.

It's sort of a mixed bag of emotions, really. A salad, even.

It really was a team effort, so I also want to thank Karen Burkett for helping us to codify exactly what it was we wanted to do; and Pepa, of course, the Spanish high schooler who happened to be shadowing Niala the day of shooting, and who helped out a great deal. (She made the mustache!)

So far, the best thing for me about this video has been the reaction from WLRN Miami Herald reporter Joshua Johnson, who told me he thought I had some sort of rough potential, and that I should entertain the idea of a career in broadcast journalism.

And yeah, why not? I could do anything. I should do anything. I mean, if I could, right?

I'm trying to keep an open mind with the job hunt. I'm looking for a job, not a city. Even though I sort of want that job to be in New York City, it also happens to be where most of the jobs are. But not all. Today I got an e-mail from someone in Panama who kinda sorta suggested he was opening a school and needed a teacher, and that I should think about it. He sent me some pictures that really look like paradise. So I need to keep my options open.

Still, although I'm pursuing any availability I come upon, I really hope whatever it turns out to be is something really big, really far, really something. I'm looking for a job; and so I'm going to go wherever the right job is. But honestly, I'd be a little disappointed if it was right around the corner. Or even worse, West Palm. Nothing against Palm Beach, I'm sure it's really quite lovely. I just don't want to get all excited about a huge career move / life change and then move an hour's drive north, still in South Florida, but in northern South Florida, oooh, ahhh.

I've got a friend whose philosophy is "Go big or go home." And well, I usually go home. But I want to go big this time. It kinda feels like this time's for keeps.

Posted by Brayden Simms at 02:00 AM on July 7, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1)

It turns out being out of work takes a whole lot of planning, if you want to do it right.

My article went to print on Sunday, July 6. Here is the link: Worst-case scenarios: An ode to limited funds

Attached to this article is my report on video resumes. I'll try to embed it in the blog tomorrow, but for now follow the link.

Posted by Brayden Simms at 01:57 AM on July 7, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Goodbye, all. We will miss you well.

Today was the first day of official Herald goodbyes, as the first wave of newsroomers finished out their last day at 1 Herald Plaza. [The lay offs are staggered; today, July 3, was the first and largest push-off. Meanwhile, I'll be here for another month, working diligently lest I jeopardize my severance package, as I watch one friendly face after another head down toward the elevators for the final time.]

In celebration of the great new opportunity provided to all the departing staff -- or perhaps just to get wasted and complain about upper management, if you don't feel like being glass-half-full about it -- tonight after work, a sizable sampling of the newsroom headed over to the bar across the street, Mikes at the Venetia. Some wonderful soul started a Herald tab, so drinks were paid for, and I indulged myself, not having to worry about breaking my strict survival budget.   

(Many thanks, by the way, to Alex Mena. I got some french fries, too. So, yeah, thanks.)

By the time I got off work (11:30), a good portion of the crowd had already been there for hours. So I didn't have to wait while the typical Herald rowdiness brewed and fermented. Oh no, I walked right into it. Almost as soon as I walked in the door, my good friend put his arm around me and told me, a couple times, just how much he loved me. And I loved him too. Him and everyone else in there, actually.

See, this wasn't just your average Mike's outing, the usual crew of after-work drinkers. No, this was a newsroom-wide event and everyone was invited. I couldn't help but fall prey to some sort of pre-nostolgia: I found myself experiencing feelings of post-departure sadness, thinking about the people around me as if I'd already left, as if I was returning to some Herald reunion, five years down the line.

It was -- and continues to be -- so strange, knowing I'll be working there for another month, after all these good folk, most of whom have worked at The Herald far longer than I. I can't help but wonder: As people continue to leave, will each farewell grow progressively less important, each goodbye-speech-and-gathering drawing fewer kind words, less-exotic cake choices? By the time I leave, nearly all who are leaving will be gone. Will the goodbye party be by that point passe? Will the remaining few be sick of goodbyes?

I hope not.

There's a tradition in newsrooms to distribute fake front pages, humorously designed, which gently roast the departing employee. I've helped with a couple of these things and I always hoped I'd get one myself. Well I'm leaving a little sooner than I thought, so I'm probably not tenured enough to deserve one. Anyway, I'm sure by the time I'm finally dismissed, everyone will be so burnt out on goodbye pages that all I'll get is a handshake, at best.

Who knows?

I had a few drinks and said my goodbyes. (I had to, after all, come home and write this thing.)

Everyone has been so nice, sincerely kind and apologetic over my dismissal. At the same time, everyone tells me how confident they are that I will "land on my feet." The sentiment is well appreciated; it really does feel nice knowing that everyone is so completely confident in my abilities.

Why is it, then, that I'm scared witless?

Posted by Brayden Simms at 02:43 AM on July 4, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (4)

 
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